New Year’s resolutions can be, to say the least, challenging to keep. That’s because we’re all creatures of habit. We all prefer familiarity and regularity. Even if spontaneity is your thing, you still like it on a regular basis! If a new activity or behavior feels fairly uncomfortable, we’re far less likely to prioritize it or make a commitment to doing it. But that’s the rub! We have to get used to being uncomfortable and dealing with the unfamiliar to gradually get over that discomfort in order to form the new habit and make it feel normal, everyday, easy and routine. It’s like starting a new job. At first it’s all new – the people, the tasks, the expectations, the environment – it’s all strange. But then you work there a while and make friends, get to know the place, get the job done and make peace with it. It’s just a matter of time and commitment. A new habit can be formed in three to four weeks. That’s how long it takes our neurology to adjust to new behaviors becoming regular parts of our body-mind complex.
Consistency is everything when it comes to reprogramming your behavior. Whether it’s a new exercise routine, a special nutrition program, letting go of a bad habit like smoking or resetting your clock to wake up earlier it takes daily discipline to shift into the new regimen. Without that daily reinforcement, the body-mind has no idea what you really expect from it and reverts to it’s old patterns of behavior because it knows how to manage your actions in that framework. There really isn’t any simpler formula when it comes to changing any aspect of your life: take time daily to engage in the new activity or behavior and gradually, step by step, day by day, it will become a new habit and feel like a second skin. The same applies to letting go of an old habit: commit to daily positive reinforcement and watch those outmoded patterns melt away.
It’s also useful to replace an old habit you want to drop with a more desirable habit you wish to enact. If you’re trying to let go of a smoking habit or over-eating, you’ll want to program daily activities like exercise, quality time with friends and family, working on a project, practicing a hobby, getting out of the house, getting involved in your community and making time to laugh, sing, dance and enjoy life. So much of developing and maintaining healthy habits has to do with your interest level. Find the activities you enjoy most and those will more than likely become your habits for life. What’s your goal, honestly? Is it something worth dealing with temporary discomfort to achieve? Setting sail with your goals in mind is always a commendable intention but you must put the systems in place to achieve that goal or you wind up doing more wishing than willing the changes you want. The systems are your sails. Do what you love and do it well all the time and you’ll create a pattern of success that can direct you toward any destination.
So, if the wind feels like it’s left your sails and you’re meandering in a sea of old habits with not much motivation to make the changes you know will improve your health and happiness, breathe new life into those proverbial sails by taking on an empowering daily routine for about thirty days. Stay focused and determined for just that long and you’ll realize you’ve adopted a new, positive behavior that will change the course of your life for the better. You can do anything (within reason) for a month! I challenge you to try your best everyday, for just a month, and guarantee you’ll discover a more powerful, uncompromising side of yourself that you’ll love, cherish and respect for having given you the chance to keep the promises you’ve made to yourself. By February you’ll be a new person and glad you took my challenge! Best of luck and do report back… I’m always thrilled to hear about your progress!
~Be the wind, the sail, the goal and the journey… and be well!